Thursday, 27 January 2011

Nadal asks no semi - Ferrer gives no semi

What an anticlimactic way for the Nadal dream to end. I appreciate the sentiment behind "give Ferrer his due" and "it's not easy to stay focussed in a situation like that" but in reality it was a bit like taking candy from a stubborn baby - not without minor difficulties but essentially inevitable and resulting in success but with a somewhat hollow ring to it. Ferr play to David for not showing any mercy but it's not like we expected him to forfeit a set out of a sense of friendship and humanitarianism.
In my prediction of straight sets (cop out excuse - I didn't state clearly who to ;-)), I commented that Nadal is Nadal - truth is during this match he wasn't. 

Or maybe he was, but not the Nadal we like to think of (sheer power, determination and incredible skill with a racquet). Part of Federer's consistency in Slams is not only always making it to the QF and beyond, but the fact that he participates in them all and never retires from a match. Nadal's style means that he is very susceptible to injury and so is unlikely to a) ever have a consistently injury-free year or b) have as lengthy a career as Federer. There's no doubt Nadal is a champion but his chances of winning as many GS as Federer are harmed greatly by his Darren Anderton-esque injury-proneness.

So we are left with the following Semi Finals:
Federer vs Djokovic
Murray vs Ferrer
Murray trails the head-to-head 3-2 but leads 2-0 on hard courts. Hard to evaluate Ferrer after the Nadal match but I would expect Murray to take him, although it may not prove as straightforward as their clash at the 02 in November. I slightly underestimated the difficulty Dolgo would cause but I genuinely don't see David taking more than a set from the Scot. Murray in 4
Remarkably, this will be Djokovic and Federer's 5th Grand Slam semi-final match up. Their head-to-head makes for interesting reading.
Overall: Fed leads 13-6 (68% RF wins)
In Semis: Fed leads 6-4 (60% RF wins)
In Slams: Fed leads 4-2 (67% RF wins)
On Hard: Fed leads 12-5 (71% RF wins)
In other words, there's an incredible consistency in the percentage of times Roger beats Novak. But to make it really specific, their four Grand Slam semi meetings are split 2-2 (RF: US '09, US '08 - ND: US '10, AUS '08). Perhaps this can give Djoko some hope.
It's a tough one to call, it will no doubt mean a lot to Federer to show that he is still capable of winning slams but Novak has to believe that he has a great chance, not only to beat Federer but to go on to claim his second Grand Slam title. Their career win percentages are unexpectedly close, at 81% (RF) and 79% (ND). I wouldn't be surprised to see it go to 5 sets but this time I think Federer will have the edge.

* selected other career win percentages (with total GS wins), for information's sake:
Borg 83% - 11
Nadal 82% - 9
McEnroe 82% - 7
Lendl 82% - 8
Laver 79% - 11 (5 in Open Era)
Sampras 77% - 14
Agassi 76% - 8
Edberg 75% - 6
Murray 74% - 0

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